The jury is not out, it is not a conspiracy by some secret cabal of billionaires, it is not a natural fluctuation or a temporary wobble in the earths orbit. Its real and happening.
The jury has delivered its verdict, the judge has passed sentence and the punishment is being implemented right now. And it will not stop, it will go on for centuries, if not millennia. We can make it less painful, more survivable, more equitable but the crime has been committed and we are destined to receive the punishment.
What crime? Ecocide; the destruction of the environment caused by the arrogant and entitled behaviour of humankind over the past half century. Assuming we can exploit and pollute the planet we live on to create a 'better' life for ourselves, without consequences.
The science has been clear for decades. 1972 was the first internationally recognised integrated assessment of the impact of unfettered human activity. The graph above (first published in 1972) has proved to be remarkably accurate and we are pretty much were they predicted. They didn't focus on green house gasses as the computer technology could not yet support the very complex models needed to make reliable predictions. If they had added GHGs and micro plastics to the pollution line it would rise much earlier.
Of course just because they got the first part right doesn't mean the second part will happen.....does it?
Does It? Well who knows but do you want to risk it just so you can have few more years of unconstrained consumption, and it is all consumption we are talking about. The longer serious action is delayed the more likely the predicted outcome will be.
This July brought killer heatwaves in N America, South Europe, South America, S China and Asia; devastating flooding in China and parts of Europe; massive wild fires in Greece, Canada, N Africa. Not forgetting the 6th wettest July in England on record. All weather of course, we've had weather like that before.......haven't we?
Haven't we? well yes we have but not so intense, so widespread, so extreme, so unpredictable, so volatile. July 2023 was the hottest July on record by some margin.
(Oh and when they say surface they don't mean the tarmac, they mean the air temperature measured in a screened box at ground level; not up in a plane. They haven't changed the way they measure the temperature for centuries, the figures are not manipulated by the aforementioned cabal.)
This is not good, the rise in 'surface' sea temperatures, (that means in the top few meters) by 3 - 5 C this summer is almost certainly the cause of our more vigorous weather in the UK. But we can cope with the inconvenience of a few strong winds and a bit more rain. Others are not so lucky.
The tragedy is that the punishment is currently being meted out, not to the over consuming first world but on the under developed third world. We see crop failures and water conflicts driving wars and creating waves of refugees seeking help from rich countries. Surely we can put up barriers and hide behind them, protect ourselves from the increasing chaos.......can't we?
Can't we? It's tempting to believe so but the world doesn't work like that. Already we see flour and rice prices increase by 30% in just a week responding to Russia blockading Ukraine, crop failures in India, predicted low yields in N and S America. Bread and rice shortages have been the drivers of civil unrest for centuries, revolutions in France, Russia, China, Arab Spring, to name but a few, were all driven by food shortages. The immediate aftermath of the regime change was invariably dreadful; purges, mass starvation, genocide, etc. It takes a generation or more to return to some kind of normality and this time that may not be possible as the competition for resources becomes more and more intense. All of which will, of course, create more survival migrants and refugees.
The continuing acts of colonialisation we see in eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and China remind us that the inequity is real and offers opportunities for the wealthy and powerful to continue to exploit the poor and weak, with devastating and horrific consequences. Whether it is to control fuel supplies, water resources, productive land or mineral resources the powerful are always tempted to use their strength to grab a disproportionate share, and all to often give in to that temptation. Our TV screens and SM feeds are full of the images of the resulting destruction, the sweet words of the apologists, the anger of the hurt and the dispossessed; driving more tribalism, more conflict, more pain. We flinch, shake our heads, weep in frustration, utter 'it has always been so', seek solace in the creativity of our civilisation or in its palliative drugs; feel helpless.
In this season of hope for many religions, we might stop to contemplate what this all means for our futures, those of our loved ones and for all life on our precious planet. We all know what we must do. While it will limit our choices and change our lifestyles, it is not so hard; not as hard as sheltering from bombardment, scavenging to scraps of food, walking miles for dirty water, huddling together for warmth, loosing our families or loosing hope.
My resolution for the coming year(s) is to do more.
I am a late 'boomer'. In my teens I marched to raise awareness of the forecasts in the table above, particularly the risks of exponential population growth. Then I fell prey to the temptations of the modern world . While I tried to eschew over consumption and do my bit for energy conservation, in retrospect I only partially mitigated my negative effect of the environment. I still did lots of flying for business and pleasure, owned indulgent homes and vehicles, participated in elitist and wasteful sports. I am still a poor disciple but here are three things I can still do to make a difference.
Advocacy; tell it how it is, outing hypocrisy and greenwashing.
Minimise my footprint; through lifestyle changes and restraint.
Offer alternatives; provide sustainable options for our customers
So we make no apology for blogging about the environmental crisis and we will continue to seek new ways we can help. We have updated our web site to include our progress in 2023 and will post updates as and when we take further steps.